Once considered a distraction and a waste of time, video games are gaining new levels of appreciation among employers for teaching in-demand skills. The game has begun!
Here is a statistic that will blow your mind. It certainly amazes me whenever I share this: It is predicted that 65% of third graders in America today will eventually work in careers and occupations that do not currently exist.
How do we prepare for such a future? My answer is that we need to give young people access to strong academic knowledge, technical abilities and professional skills that will enable them to adapt to whatever the world throws at them.
But we can’t force anything on young people. They must want something, spend their time in what I call “active purpose mode.” When a younger generation person actively chooses to take steps toward a goal, watch out. Because they will move heaven and earth to reach their destination.
That’s why I also believe in encouraging young people to pursue a passion-driven career. And one thing that many young people are passionate about is playing video games.
What if I told you that video games can become a bridge between living a life of active purpose and pursuing a passion-driven career?
Does it seem too far-fetched? Then let me explain.
An overlooked source of skill
Video games have been popular since they first appeared. I’m old enough that the first video games I played were in an arcade and cost a whole quarter to play.
Obviously, gaming has come a long way since then. Not only do home gaming systems have more computing horsepower than the computers that sent a man to the moon, but who doesn’t have at least one gaming app on their smartphone? Thanks at least in part to stay-at-home lockdowns brought on by the pandemic, Video game sales soared. Today, there is one an estimated 2.5 billion players worldwideand in the US, Half the players are women.
But the perception, of course, is that the game is just a distraction at best—and a waste of time at worst. After all, what can you learn from playing a video game?
Turns out, quite a few. That’s one of the thought-provoking conclusions in a new ManpowerGroup report called “Game To Work—How Gamers Develop the Soft Skills Employers Need.”
At a time when many employers continue to struggle to find enough employees with the right skills—especially the so-called “soft” or “professional” skills, as I like to call them—hard players can be overlooked.
As the report states:
Players bring to the table enhanced critical thinking, creativity, emotional intelligence and complex problem solving. Games even teach players how to communicate feedback effectively. These soft skills are hard to find and even harder to train—43 percent of employers say it’s harder to teach the soft skills they’re looking for.
As Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Chief Talent Scientist, ManpowerGroup, says in the report: “In today’s workforce environment, employers must assess their skills differently and creatively to attract new sources of talent.”
Learning by playing
As part of the research that went into producing the “Game To Work” report, ManpowerGroup analyzed approximately 11,000 games across 13 genres to determine the types of professional skills players develop by playing video games.
For example, for games that fall under the “Strategy, Puzzle and Quiz” umbrella, such as StarCraft, civilization, Pac-Man, Words with friends the Legion of Legendsplayers develop skills such as decision-making, planning, concentration and persistence.
When playing action-adventure and role-playing games like World of Warcraft, Assassin’s Creed, Monster Hunter or Pokémon, skills such as collaboration, communication, problem solving and judgment are built.
ManpowerGroup also developed an online tool called the Game skill translator where players enter their favorite games and then receive a report on the valuable skills they learn while playing.
The report also identifies potential jobs and career paths that match these skill sets. For example, players who enjoy solving puzzles may excel in jobs such as production and machine operators, warehouse and construction workers, or quality control technicians.
Play the resume
One of the most interesting takeaways for me from the “Game To Work” report was the idea that gamers should be encouraged to mention in their resumes the games they like to play and the skills they learn while playing and ask about the game their. interview experience. Adopting this kind of practice could prove to be a competitive advantage for open-minded employers interested in tapping into this talent pool.
For example, in Norway, it is estimated that more than half of the population aged 16 to 24 play video games. Companies that actively recruit and evaluate young people as job candidates based on the skills they’ve learned playing games are finding success.
One such company, a global e-commerce company called Komplett, has added new player employees to its customer service team.
“Players develop knowledge and skills that are easily transferable to the e-commerce industry, for example IT skills and cognitive skills such as focus, multitasking and collaboration,” says Daniel Hauan, Customer Care Manager, Komplett, in the ManpowerGroup report.
Another case study highlighted in the ManpowerGroup report involves Lyse Dialog, a utility company, which has seen around 10% of candidates applying for open positions mention their games on their CV – which also helped the company to improve its image as an employer of choice among members of younger generations.
Preparation for tomorrow’s work
With the advent of disruptive technology like robots and AI tools like ChatGPT, we will need people who know how to adapt and work alongside this technology in the jobs of tomorrow.
And it’s easy to imagine a future where young people can learn the skills they need to excel in these jobs by playing video games—which will also continue to grow in sophistication over time.
What might be harder for any parents out there to wrap their heads around is that all the time their kids spend playing video games might actually be paving the way for an exciting future career they’re passionate about.
To that idea, I say, game on!